EXCLUSIVE Q&A: Paul Lipman, CEO BullGuard

CEO Paul Lipman talks exclusively about how consumer security company BullGuard is shaking up the IoT market.

lipmanBullGuard appears to be undergoing a renaissance after being around for a while. Why the sudden surge?

BullGuard’s promise to our customers is ‘we keep you safe and we keep it simple’. This promise of providing the very best, easiest to use, security products to our customers is what has made us the #1 rated consumer security company in Europe. On the back of this product strength we are rapidly expanding into new markets around the world, including India, Latin America and the Middle East.

However, our vision for keeping our customers secure is much broader than just Anti-Virus. An AV product was perfectly OK in the days when the only connected devices we had in the home were PCs. However, the devices in our homes are proliferating both in number and form such as smart TVs, internet-enabled surveillance cameras, door locks, garage door openers… the list goes on. 

Traditional Anti-Virus solutions can’t protect these devices. Today’s connected home needs enterprise-grade network security to protect against the very real attacks that threaten IoT devices. This is a major transition point for the industry, and BullGuard is at the forefront of this new wave of innovation.

You recently made an interesting acquisition in Israel. What is the strategy behind this?

More than four billion consumer non-PC devices are connected to the internet and this number is growing exponentially. Until now, the security and privacy of these devices has been essentially non-existent, leaving our most precious data and possessions exposed.

That’s why we bought Dojo-Labs. BullGuard and Dojo share a common vision for solving this critical market problem, and for delivering the products our customers need to keep them safe. Dojo has developed a world-class intelligent security device that connects to the home network and acts as the essential layer between connected devices and any threats to their security or privacy. Their team comprises of cybersecurity experts with the highest level of hacking and security-related big data analytics experience.

Why are you focusing on IoT?

Successful hacks against IoT devices are in the news literally every day. The problem is real, significant and growing. Nobody is solving this problem today. BullGuard has the technology, channels and capital to lead this new market.

Isn’t IoT just another hyped-up buzzword?

Absolutely not. IoT is a huge tech trend that will transform consumers’ lives. However, the security aspect is a nightmare. It’s poorly thought out and loosely implemented, if at all. It’s probably the major impediment to growth of this industry.

BullGuard is intently focused on solving this problem. We launched the world’s first IoT scanner, and after the Dojo-Labs acquisition we will be at the forefront of the next wave of consumer security services and innovation.

What is the problem BullGuard is solving?

Our homes contain our most precious possessions and intimate data The promise of Smart homes can only be truly realised once this security problem has been solved. We like to call it SoT, the Security of Things.

How many customers and partners do you have?

We have millions of consumer customers around the world. Our products are sold by more than 2,500 partners in North America, Europe, the Middle East, Asia and Australia.

How big is the market? 
The consumer security market is worth more than $8 billion. The IoT security market is at least another $7.5 billion today (comprising both consumer and enterprise markets).

How much have you raised in funding to date?

$20 million

Where is the BullGuard team based?

The team is located in Silicon Valley, London, Bucharest and Herzliya.

What are the challenges with separate teams in four locations?

On the contrary, BullGuard’s office locations provide us with some important advantages. Being a globally distributed company not only enables us to serve customers and partners wherever they are around the world, but lets us tap into the varied and deep talent pools that each region provides. Our main office is located in Bucharest, where we have close ties to the major technical universities and the city’s broad base of software development and anti-virus talent.

We recently opened an office in Silicon Valley and now, with the acquisition of Dojo-Labs, we get to tap into Israel’s renowned cyber security expertise. Simply put, uniquely positioned in terms of talent and market access.

UK SMEs vastly overpay in global transaction fees

UK SMEs with 20 transactions a month are overpaying £52,800 in international payment fees

SMEsNew research from international payments service company Covercy reports that UK companies are vastly overpaying for cross-border payments, with some companies paying more than £4,000 per month in unnecessary fees.

More than 69% of the UK’s 53,000 SME exporters are paying completely unnecessary fees. For a company making 20 transactions of £10,000 this equates to £2,120 a month or £25,440 a year. Similarly, conducting 20 transactions of £1,000 this will total £1,100 a month or £13,200 a year.

HMRC has also released its monthly Overseas Trade Statistics report that reveals UK’s exports to EU countries increased by £1 billion in June 2016. However, in a post-Brexit world, UK exporters and importers will need to keep costs as low as possible as the UK seeks to open up new trade links. Reducing the cost of their international payments will be critical to this.

“While it may have expected that exports in particular might slow significantly down to the EU due to a potential ‘Brexit’, However, exports actually increased by over 8% compared to May. However, we’ve yet to see how Brexit has actually affected UK companies who export to the EU,” said Doron Cohen, CEO of Covercy

Covercy is trying to eliminate the hidden costs facing SMEs who make international money transfers and is licensed by the UK’s Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) as an Authorised Payment Institution. It recently closed a $2.5 million (£1.9 million) funding round led by Californian-based venture capital firmSGVC.

Covercy’s quoted rates are guaranteed through its own algorithm that means businesses know exactly how much their overseas transactions cost before committing to use the service. In addition, all cross-border transactions can be tracked and traced in real time by a business owner.

Algerian in UK faces deportation if startup fails

AlgerianSetting up a startup is never an easy venture, but 27-year-old Algerian entrepreneur Mehdi Meghzifene faces a different type of challenge.

He faces deportation from the UK and five years prison in Algeria if his ‘tree water’ company, Sibberi is not a financial success and does not fulfil the criteria of his UK Tier 1 Entrepreneur Visa.

The big print stipulated on his visa obtained in March 2015 from the UK Visas and Immigration (UKVI) division of the Home Office, Mehdi must be employing at least 10 people and his company must be a financial success before March 2018. If not, the in order for him to receive Permanent Leave to Remain in the UK will expire and he could be deported.

Mehdi, who studied for a MSc in Mathematical Finance at Imperial College London, worked for two years at Goldman Sachs in the Investment Banking Division before set up Sibberi with co-founder Clara Vaisse.

Mehdi and his family fled a civil war when he was nine years old for a better life in Austria. Consequently that means he has avoided compulsory military service at 18 years of age in Algeria and could face a five-year prison sentence if forced to return.

“I have to make Sibberi a success at all costs and I have no other option than for it be a success. There’s no going back. It’s very fortunate that Tree Water is really trending at the moment, surpassing sugary and calorific Coconut water,” said Mehdi.

Sibberi is a tree water company dedicated to bringing nutritious health foods to the UK market. Founded in 2015 bthe company won the Unilever Food for the Future Award and is one of the Virgin Media Business VOOM 2016 Finalists.

Inspired by tales of the health-giving properties of birch sap, Sibberi’s co-founders Clara Vaisse and Mehdi Meghzifene embarked on a quest which lead them across Estonia and Latvia to find the pure, unsweetened sap then unavailable in UK stores.

“The moment we tasted fresh birch sap, used by Latvian farmers to make birch sap wine, we knew we wanted to share this ingredient with UK consumers. As we travelled through the rural villages and wild forests of Estonia and Latvia, tasting fresh spring birch sap, Sibberi was born”, said co-founder Vaisse.

The pressure for Mehdi is now on, he deserves as much support as possible.

Video visits on the up as DAD raises £2 million

DAD, an operator in the ‘advice economy’ has secured £2 million in seed funding from HomeServe to launch its video visit service.

DADDAD is a company that connects consumers with an expert in domestic maintenance who provides DIY tips and expert advice to help fix anything from a dodgy door handle to a broken boiler.

This means that consumers no longer have to endure expensive call-outs or wait for plumbers, electricians and handymen to turn up at their home. Now they can simply download the app and hit call to start a ‘video visit’ and speak with an expert in home repairs who can help them fix or diagnose the problem.

The company has secured £2 million in funding from HomeServe to expand its services. Calls cost £10 from any smartphone calling from the UK with no time limit put on the call.

“My Dad has always been my go-to person for practical advice around the home. The idea for DAD came a couple of years ago when I was trying to change a bathroom tap. Having swapped the old tap for a new one, I turned the water back on and instantly everything was soaked.

“My Dad was away travelling, enjoying his retirement, so I called him on FaceTime and he guided me through what to do. I realised that if I found myself in such a DIY disaster others would too, so I started DAD,” said Ben Wynn, Founder and CEO, DAD.

The experts have a lifetime of experience and are vetted by the DAD team. They work in three-hour shifts and can be anyone from a retired tradesman who wants to work a couple of hours a day to an ex-service engineer or skilled handyman who prefers a flexible working week.

The company believes that what people usually think is broken can often be fixed with the help of an expert via a video visit. The proof of concept stage showed that 60% of all problems can be solved over the phone. The other 40% were fixed via a home visit from a qualified and vetted partner.

Future technology will make kids more active

‘Drones that pay hide-and-seek, virtual reality video games and satellite tracked treasure hunts.’

futureA new report The Future Of Play from ‘future trends experts’ Futurizon says that advances in technology over the next decade will encourage kids to be more, not less active.

The author of the report, Dr Ian Pearson predicts that new gadgets such as activity-tracking jewellery and drones that can play ‘hide and seek’ or shoot jets of water, will help to maximise activity levels. Moreover, the most exciting change predicted for the next decade will be the arrival of augmented reality (AR).

According to the report, which was commissioned by Soreen and the Youth Sport Trust, over the coming years AR glasses, which superimpose computer-generated data onto the real world view, will become as normal as owning a smart phone. It will mean that, while previous generations of technology obliged people to stare at a screen, AR glasses will encourage users to get out and explore the world.

It foresees that these glasses will revolutionise everything from family outings to school trips as it blends the virtual and real worlds and encourages people to go out and be active, with computers enhancing the real world. It will also encourage kids to use their imagination and conjure up scenarios to inspire active play.

Over three quarters of the respondents (78%) in the report said that children are now so tech savvy, that digital devices should be used to help them exercise,

“We know from our own Class of 2035 report and working closely with schools that integrating digital technology into PE lessons and other subjects, can increase participation and enjoyment and empowers young people to take responsibility for their own activity levels,” said Alison Oliver, Chief Executive at the Youth Sport Trust.

Other future technological advancements predicted for the next ten years will also contribute to making Britain healthier, the report predicts.

For example, school vending machines might use fingerprint recognition to bring up a child’s records, or read the student’s fitness tracker to identify their daily calorie consumption up to that point, before offering them the most appropriate snacks.

New generation, super-accurate satellite locating will also increase the popularity of Geocaching in the future, a modern-day treasure hunt where people find hidden boxes using their phone location.

Image recognition on smart phones will make family day trips, visits to the park or even the walk to school more stimulating by allowing children to point the camera at landmarks, cars, plants or animals and quickly discover all about them. Learning sports will also be revolutionised in the next decade, the report claims.